Treasures - emptied. From the bottom of the camera bag. In the nooks and crannies. Forgotten memories - so very welcomed.
We need to talk. Take a minute and sit down... This means a lot to me and I need to know you are paying attention. Ready? Here it is...
More than ever before, this season has left me in so many many tears. I am heart broken - and sad. For most all of you. Over the past few weeks, I've seen you hide. I've heard your pleas to "just get the kids." I've listened to your stories about how you don't feel like the best version of yourself. And I've heard the absolute worst things - about each of you. From your own mouths. Don't get me wrong - I have a list too. About my chin, my laugh lines, my too big smile, the changing shape of my body and how the picture in my head doesn't match the picture in real life. I get it. Completely. But it breaks me open to think that you might be missing the whole point.
Let's start here... For 6 years, you've invited me into your homes, I've come along on your vacations, I've marked your important events. And at each of those times - I couldn't have been more proud of you. For the fierce way you love and protect your families. For the gentle way you let them outshine the universe. For the sweet ways you encourage them. And the gracious ways you accept their affections. And each of those things make you so very BEAUTIFUL. Stunningly so. And I've started a list for each of you... In the hours of editing that followed. The hours where I got to dissect every little gesture, and every little kiss, and every little everything that makes you - you. And those things just make me love you more. If I haven't had the chance to share them - here are just a few...
- One of you has eyes that turn into the most gorgeous half moons when you smile and laugh. You always make me smile too!
- One of you is always present in the moment - and up for adventure. You are willing to do anything for your family - even going in the ocean fully clothed. I love that.
- One of you has the most infectious laugh. It's like wildfire and I can't help but laugh too.
- One of you has the brightest trusting eyes - the kind that catch you from across the room.
- One of you will drive to the ends of the earth for your family. Your chauffeur abilities never cease to amaze me.
- One of you has dimples. The best kind. They show up when you're not looking - when you've let your guard down. And it's always my mission to let them shine through.
- One of you gives the best momma hugs and kisses. No matter who is watching.
- One of you has the most amazing sense of style. Always. You blow me away.
- One of you dances your way through everything. Literally. It's the best.
- One of you sings the most beautiful hello and the most endearing goodbye.
- One of you always looks me straight in the eye - and trusts me infinitely.
- One of you is so funny. You keep everyone's spirits up and carry a collection of laughter wherever you go.
- One of you is the bravest mom I know.
- One of you has the most perfect smile... bright and happy and always shining.
Here is what I've learned ::
- Your stories are so full of love and beauty... I've seen it, and studied it, and tried my absolute best to help you see it too.
- Women - your husbands adore you. I've seen how they look at you, and how they watch you... They choose YOU - daily. They are willing to stand by your side and do silly laughs and throw leaves and have tickle fights with your littles. They appreciate you - even if it's not always spoken.
- And the children... Oh how they think you hung the moon. They love you and they don't care who's watching. Even the older ones. Even if they don't want to - they do it for you. They may say it's for a bribe - but it's really all for you. And deep down inside - I think you know that, too.
- They all think you are amazing. And gorgeous. And the best ever.
- None of them are counting to see if you have more lines than last year. None of them are sizing you up to see if you've gained or lost weight. And I guarantee you - not a single one of them is thinking you look fat.
So stop it. Right here - right now. Quit tearing yourselves apart. And go back and look again... You've already done the hard part... You chose to show up, and be present, and to love - all for them. So look closely... See how their eyes sparkle when they look at you. Hear the laughter - the full out belly laughs that followed the silly laughs. The sweet little way you brushed their hair away from their face and they let melted. The big hugs. The running, the twirling, the games, the leaves, the everything else. The parts that matter. The pieces that construct their memory of your time together. The things they will treasure when looking back at the photographs that you made sure to arrange... A history of who you are - not just some pretty pictures. The milestones, the pieces of your stories... Your LIFEMAP. It's unique - and there are many connections. But there is one common thread for each of you... And I hope you know ...
You. Are. Loved.
Deeply and genuinely loved.
And you are beautiful. Just the way you are.
Chances are - You are one of these beautiful people... or you will come in contact with someone on this list. Or you know someone similar. I challenge you - the next time you are together, tell them what YOU see. The parts that are beautiful. The things you admire. Make a connection. Strengthen their lifemap. Build them up. And let's stop this nonsense. For the sake of those who love us most. Let's not be the ones to miss it all.
With much love,
Saturday, August 24, 2013 | Main Street, Jonesborough, TN
Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Jonesborough Farmers Market.
Smoked Tomatoes | goat cheese mousse | summer greens
Roasted Corn Relish | homemade merguez
Chicken Veloute | buttermilk dumplings
Sunburst Trout | shiitake fingerling hash | fennel slaw | celery root puree
Bacon Beignets | fig compote
Chapo's Chile Patch - Jeff & Jolene Stratton, Jonesborough
Clover Creek Farm - Chris Wilson, Jonesborough
Donimick's Garden - Donimick Haynes, Jonesborough
Dotson Farm - Tom & Tabitha Dotson, Jonesborough
Farmhouse Gallery and Peacock Artisan Breads - Pat and Johnny Lynch, Unicoi
Eric Isenburg - Limestone
Kany Farm - Mike Heiney, Bulls Gap
Matheson Farm - Rachel Collette & Jane Matheson, Jonesborough
River Island Taters - Carolyn Novak, Elizabethton
Rogue Harbor Farm - Aubrey & Linda Raper, Marshall, NC
Salamander Springs Gardens - Webb Family, Marshall, NC
Sentelle's Homemade Sausage - Jimmy & Minnie Sentelle, Bulls Gap
Sunburst Trout - Asheville, NC
The Fig Lady - Kathy Waldo, Jonesborough
White's Mountain Meadow Farm - Robert & Wendee White, Afton
Ziegenwald Dairy - John & Andrea Woodworth, Gate City, VA
Menu Design by Heather Gilreath
Printing courtesy of Hamlet-Dobson
Music by Megan Gregory and Will Parsons
Flowers donated by Aunt Willie's Wildflowers, Blountville; Stoney Slope Farm, Gray; Arranged by Beverly Jenkins and Dana York
Rentals by Action Rental
Beer by local brewer - Depot Street Brewery
Wine by Jonesborough Wine and Spirits
Photography by Amanda & James Churchill - Woven Creative Studios
the town of Jonesborough - for love & support.
Media sponsor - VIP Seen
Herman & Beverly Jenkins, and Alex & Breelyn Bomba, their family and all the many many volunteers - for making it all happen.
To learn more about the farmers, please visit www.jonesborough.locallygrown.net.
See the entire collection of Farm to Table 2014 HERE.